At least one mainstream media journalist did get it: Laurie Goodstein. In her October 25, 2008 NYT story titled October 25, 2008. YouTube Videos Draw Attention to Palin's Faith, Goodstein quoted me, 'Bruce Wilson, a researcher for Talk2Action, a Web site that tracks religious groups, said: "One of the imperatives of the movement is to achieve worldly power, including political control. Then you can more effectively drive out the demons. The ultimate goal is to purify the earth." '
In her piece Laurie Goodstein accurately pegged the nature of Palin's religious associations:
"Ms. Palin has had long associations with religious leaders who practice a particularly assertive and urgent brand of Pentecostalism known as "spiritual warfare."
Its adherents believe that demonic forces can colonize specific geographic areas and individuals, and that "spiritual warriors" must "battle" them to assert God's control, using prayer and evangelism. The movement's fixation on demons, its aggressiveness and its leaders' claims to exalted spiritual authority have troubled even some Pentecostal Christians.
Ms. Palin delivered an enthusiastic graduation speech for a class of young spiritual warriors in June at the Wasilla Assembly of God, the church in which she was raised. "
Miracle healing ? Raising the dead ? - Those are among the practices promoted at Sarah Palin's key church, the Wasilla Assembly of God. And, during the 2008 election, video surfaced showing a late 2005 ceremony from the church in which Kenyan evangelist Bishop Thomas Muthee blessed Sarah Palin against "every form of witchcraft."
Witchcraft ? It sounded a bit weird or perhaps medieval. And, why had the African evangelist traveled to Alaska in the first place ?
Mainstream media didn't think to ask. Over the course of September and October 2008, I was one of a tiny group of writers who correctly identified the highly distinctive nature of Sarah Palin's Third Wave and New Apostolic Christianity. At the web site I co-founded in late 2005 with journalist Frederick Clarkson can be found over 20 unique stories and a score of short video documentaries including a 36 page report (link to PDF of report) concerning Sarah Palin's churches and her religious associations.
In my new story, Fighting Demons, Raising the Dead, Taking Over the World, published by Religion Dispatches, I describe Sarah Palin's strange new Christianity, which is rapidly becoming the face of the new, globalizing Christian right.
[Below: Thomas Muthee proposes Christian takeover of seven key sectors of society, then anoints Sarah Palin. Meet the New Apostolics. They're coming your way.]
Sarah Palin is in the same radical new stream of Christianity as is Ted Haggard. As I wrote in my Religion Dispatches story,
In 1996 a team from Ted Haggard's New Life Church flew to Mali and began furtively anointing entire towns with cooking oil.
The strangeness of it gripped Dutch missionary René Holvast, who later wrote: "It was confusing and produced a growing uneasiness. It did not seem to fit our current evangelical theological and anthropological textbooks."
The team from Haggard's church was a forerunner in a missionary wave that has washed over the world since the early 1990s, bringing what Holvast calls a 'new paradigm.'
René Holvast has theological training, but his perplexed reaction was similar to that of Alix Spiegel, a radio journalist who went to Ted Haggard's New Life Church in 1997 to do a story for This American Life.
As I told Bill Berkowitz, for an interview entitled The New Christianity: What the Mainstream Media Has Missed that's also just appeared in Religion Dispatches,
Sarah Palin is, broadly speaking, in the emerging postdenominational movement, which by 2000 encompassed 385 million Christians and is vastly different from the faith as it has been practiced in recent centuries. We identified Palin as in a majority tendency of postdenominationalism known as the neocharismatic movement, or the "Third Wave."
Evangelical missionary reference work World Christian Trends calls the Third Wave "a new and disturbingly different" kind of Christianity whose members "can accurately be called radical Christians with some pentecostal /charismatic parallels" and which has, as one of the distinctive characteristics of Third Wave Christian ministry, a heavy emphasis on healing miracles including raising the dead--an emphasis promoted from the pulpit in sermons at Palin's most central church, the Wasilla Assembly of God.
We also found extensive evidence that Palin is in a religious movement founded in 2001 that has coalesced out of Third Wave Christianity; the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).
The NAR is bent on radically reinventing Christianity, and is fast becoming the vanguard of the global Christian Right.
As I'll be describing in upcoming Religion Dispatches installments, Sarah Palin's novel new Christianity is rapidly moving to achieve dominance in the GOP, but few Democrats appear aware that Palin's rapidly growing new Christianity even exists.
Because of that, there exists the danger that the Democratic Party will be blindsided in the 2012 presidential election, as the New Apostolic Reformation / Third Wave Christianity gambit - of peeling away ethnic constituencies that have traditionally voted for the Democratic Party - comes into play.
[ below: early September 2008 depicts exotic style of Palin's Third Wave Christianity ]
[below: another overview of the New Apostolic Reformation]
[video, below: Julie Meyer, a "prophetic" Third Wave Christian, shouts, "The lord tells me 'It's about number TWO. It's about number TWO... Ohio will tip the scales for JUSTICE... OHIO will be given the golden KEY to tip the scale for JUSTICE... It's the year for the DEBORAHS to AWAKE.]
[Below: Rick Warren is a Third Wave Christian who top NAR leaders claim is in their movement]
[below: Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer talk about Ted Haggard's participation in the NAR]]
[below: Palin's prayer-group leader Mary Glazier proposes forced religious cleansing of "The Land" so that unbelievers who will not convert to NAR Christianity are "displaced".]
[below: Palin's Churches and The Holy Laughter Anointing. As Rodney Howard-Browne declares, "We will not back down... if it means death, then SO BE IT"]